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Internet Freedom and Cyberattacks: Diverging results of the rapidly developing web

Sabrina Baum ('11); Sarah Cook ('05)*; Mentor: Pierre Englebert
* Freedom House, Washington, DC

Abstract: In 2009, Freedom House, known for its annual Freedom in the World report and Freedom index assessing political rights and civil liberties, published a pilot index of internet freedom. I worked on the second edition of Freedom on the Net, editing country narratives by experts in African and Latin American countries. Each report addresses questions under the following categories: 1) Obstacles to Access, 2) Controls on Content and 3) Violations of Users’ Rights. The expanding reach of cyberattacks contributes to restricted internet freedom. Cyberattacks range from spam, which now makes up 90% of emails, to identity theft, espionage networks and cyberwars. What are the different forms of attacks and how do they work? Who launches cyberattacks and who is targeted? What are the financial, national security and civil rights impacts? In addition to addressing these questions, my policy brief for Freedom House will discuss policy recommendations to handle this threat.
Funding provided by The Faucett Family Foundation

Challenging the Constitutionality of the Senate Filibuster

Nick Hubbard ('11); Christopher McGuire ('11); Kyle Grossman ('12); Samuel Levy ('13); Mentor: Michael Teter

Abstract: We conducted legal and historical research including: the creation of the Senate and the origins of “Each Senator shall have one Vote”; the historical progression of the filibuster; the modern-day filibuster; the Supreme Court malapportionment cases, of the “one-person, onevote” and cases showing that a Senator could challenge the filibuster in court. The research contributed to a 60-page article by Professor Teter that will be published in a law review supporting the argument that the Senate filibuster is unconstitutional and that the 60-vote requirement to cut off debate in the Senate distorts the weight of individual Senators’ votes making the filibuster legally identical to electoral apportionment schemes that distort the value of individual citizens’ votes. Because the Supreme Court has abolished such systems by declaring them unconstitutional, the filibuster could and should meet a similar end. The argument provides a clear blueprint for the Senate to reinstate majority rule.
Funding provided by The Fletcher Jones Foundation (NH, CM, KG, SL)

Envisioning the East Asian Liberal Arts College

Wei Jun Mun ('12); Mentor: John Seery

Abstract: There has been a growing interest in the liberal arts education model by countries outside of America. Interestingly, as a parallel but opposite trend, the US is experiencing a declining interest in the very same product. Although there are many institutions outside of America that brand themselves as “liberal arts”, there is a paucity of those that are of comparable quality and caliber to those in the US. To conceptualise the East Asian Liberal Arts College, which is without precedent, interviews are conducted with professors and higher education officials from US, Japan, and Singapore. There is a unanimous conviction that the conceptualisation must be reframed in the East Asian context – a meritocratic schooling system, strong governmental presence, influential neoliberal forces, pervasive rice bowl and time-to-market mentalities, and intra East Asia cultural differences etc. Once conceived within this context, the EALAC is radically different from any existing liberal arts institution.
Funding provided by The Fletcher Jones Foundation

The Idea of America

Emily Saliba ('11); Mentor: John Seery

Abstract: I set out to explore the political, historical, cultural and social components that constitute the idea of America through the review of American texts and editing assistance of A Political Companion to Walt Whitman. I also examined the specific concept of the right to run for federal office and worked to bring John Seery’s proposal for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reduce the age of office eligibility to the legal age of majority as explained in his forthcoming work, Too Young to Run?, to the attention of American citizens. To do so, I designed and launched a website,, to provide education and outreach. During the SURP, I achieved greater understanding of the many aspects of the idea of America, along with tangible attempts to improve upon these ideas of America that continue to shape our country.
Funding provided by The Fletcher Jones Foundation

Investigating the Relationship Between Women and the State in Burkina Faso

Sarah Thompson ('11); Nestorine Sangaré*; Rosalie Compaoré*; Mentor: Pierre Englebert

Abstract: This project investigates the interactions of Burkinabé women with their state, as perceived by individuals. Background scholarly research was supplemented by observations and 9 interviews, all of which occurred in the capital, Ouagadougou. Because of the language barrier, only women with a certain level of education were interviewed. Despite the relatively limited sample size, the views of Burkinabé women varied greatly in terms of their perception of the state as it concerns women. Because of the subjectivity of the research, clear conclusions are hard to draw; Still, women expressed the need for much improvement in gender equality and credited male dominated “African” society with resistance against change. One sentiment that appeared nearly across the board was that of hope. Although women bear the brunt of hardships facing the Burkinabé population, there is great faith and optimism regarding their future relationship with the state.
Funding provided by The Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Award

The Buganda kingdom: An inquiry into the political power of a cultural institution

Kaitlyn Boecker ('11); Mentor: Pierre Englebert

Abstract: The Buganda kingdom, an institution which blends cultural conservation with quasigovernment, has enjoyed enormous popularity since its king’s reinstatement in 1993. Despite bald political aims and a large “membership,” until 2009 it had avoided direct conflict with Museveni’s government. After legislative clashes over land rights, unpaid taxes and a federal system tensions became physical. Riots in September 2009 resulted in death, destruction and the virtual shutdown of Kampala, revealing both the powerful influence of the kingdom and the latent unrest in the capital. With the 2011 elections drawing nearer, any potential rallying force must be accounted for. Through interviews with senior officials, Buganda pressure groups and average citizens, as well as research into kingdom institutions and affairs I attempt to evaluate Buganda’s mobilization power. I find that the organization holds tremendous potential, though the leadership’s wariness of the “dangers of African politics” means it will likely remain unutilized.
Funding provided by The Fletcher Jones Foundation

Research at Pomona